Which films are better than the books they are based on?


The New Zealand Herald Asked Can a film be better than the book? It doesn't happen often - but there are some great examples. Many say that the Oscar-nominated film Brokeback Mountain was better than the Annie Proulx short-story it came from.

Which films are better than the books they are based on?


"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" by Chuck Barris. George Clooney's hallucinatory, charming, unsettling movie was better than Barris' uneven, ponderous book.

Movie was much better, IMHO.

I agree whole heartedly - the book was awful - the movie great.

Ang Lee's "Sense and Sensibility". The movie adds so much to the original story.

I'm sure it could be argued either way, but I thought that the 1969 film version of D.H. Lawrence's book, "Women In Love", was a pretty good adaptation, aside from the few liberties the director took with the storyline.

And I'd say most people who have read it would agree that Stanley Kubrick's version of "The Shining" was better than the book :)

I think it was him at some awards thing... "Dude Where's My Car?"

I think "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" is a terrific movie made from a pretty good book. It takes full advantage of the possibilities for visual storytelling (and plain old visual beauty) in film -- and Daniel Day Lewis brings a lot to the main character.

Bill Taylor
Washington County Free Library
Hagerstown, MD

Some sci-fi and fantasy books just spend most of their time world-building and not as much on character. When you have a visual adaptation however you HAVE to tell the story through the characters, not descriptions. Don't get me wrong I love the following books, I just think the movies did a better job telling a story.

"Logan's Run." I love the book, the movie, and the TV series but wow are the characters flat in the book and maybe a bit dated! Just to complicate matters all three versions have a different ending.

The "Lord of the Rings," books (except maybe "The Hobbit"). I know I'm also going to geek/gamer hell for this sacrilege, but as wonderful of world as Tolkin designed the movie focused more on the characters and story then the book did. The book expertly builds the world, its history, and the cultures in it, but the movie is actually a story with an amazing cast.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep"/"Blade Runner." The movie is a masterpiece. The novella is amazing, but not a masterpiece.

Special mention goes to George Lucas, who released his novel version of "Star Wars," about a month before releasing the movie. Doesn't take a much thought on which was a greater success and why.

Honorable mention also goes to Marvel comics live action movie franchise (except for "X-Men 3") and DC's *animated* movies and television shows (except "Teen Titans" up until the last couple of years). The comics have been just twisting and killing characters right and left in recent years to drive up sales through shock. The animated stuff from DC and the live-action Marvel have been almost reviving what made comics fun and readable in the 60's to mid-90's - and they tend to have a better grasp on character history.

Finally, I have to point to an even rarer instance that does happen - when a novelization of a movie is better then the movie because the author can make you linger on character moments and/or fix plot holes. I have two of these on my shelves. A.C. Crispen's "V," novelization and Alan Dean Foster's "The Last Starfighter." The "TRON," novelization bears a mention here because it actually shows cut scenes and fun moments you can lose if you're watching a "full screen," version of the film.

EDIT: My husband just point out a few more movies that are, "better then the source material." One would be the movie "Clue," and the other are the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies.

Lord of the Rings was the first thing to come to mind when I thought of the book/movie comparison. I reread the books as the movies came out and I really had to force myself to keep going. And yeah, I read mostly fantasy/sci fi books.

The other title that I thought of was Legally Blonde. :)


the wristcutters film/bests kneller's happy campers/handily cutting

Short Cuts, by Robert Altman wasn't necessarily better than the stories by Raymond Carver, but I was blown away that Altman managed to string them together and make the film non-offensive to Carver fans. Great movie, great stories, but totally different from each other.

Princess Bride and Joy Luck Club.

"Cold Confort Farm" was a gem on the screen.

The Razor's Edge w/ Bill Murray - not his usual role. Unlike most movies with 'happier than the book' Hollywood endings, this film encompasses the message of H. Somerset Maugham's book of the same name while leaving out much of the stuffiness of the novel.

And - The Wizard of Oz. The H. Frank Baum series is excellent, but the movie will always be one of my favorites - where else can you see a horse of a different color?

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